The Calfee Singles Get A Cosmetic Make-Over

As mentioned in my prior posting on the wheel upgrade for my 23-year old Calfee, the catalyst for that change was the cosmetic make-over of our 2007 Calfee tandem this past February, when it received a set of new-to-us FSA carbon cranks that, in turn, became the motivation to do a minor “re-nude” and change out the decals to Calfee’s new branding.  The change was, well… amazing in terms of making the tandem look fresh and new again…

Of course, were in something of a unique position to be able to re-decal the tandem as well as our Calfee singles for several reasons:

  1. Our Calfee tandem and singles are not painted nor clear-coated; they’re raw carbon, aka, ‘nude’
  2. Having owned three nude Calfee’s for 13 years, I’ve learned how to work on the raw carbon finish, e.g., sanding out scratches & nicks as well as removing decals
  3. Given a 20+ year relationship with Craig and being a customer for 13 years, they have been willing to trust me enough to send me the decals I needed
  4. I’m cocky enough to think there’s not much I can’t do related to bicycles given the motivation, enough knowledge, the right tools and a few spare parts in case I screw something up as part of the learning process.

Therefore, seeing how well the tandem turned out and having embraced the new branding, the next logical move was to give our two single Calfee bikes a similar re-nude and decal update.  With that in mind, I sent off a note to Craig and his sales manager, Richard, with a request for two sets of single bike decals back on 12 August and they arrived five days later on the 15th.

The Test Application

In the interim and having remembered I had a few left-over spare decals from the tandem re-do, on 14 Aug I went ahead and removed all the decals from Debbie’s frame, gave the raw carbon frame tubes where the decals had been applied and a few other spots a light sanding and final cleaning with solvent before doing a ‘beta test’ decal application using those left-over down tube decals from the tandem.  Given the smaller diameter of the single bike down tubes, I wasn’t sure how best to place the decals to get the “right look.”

As with the tandem, once I had the new decals applied I really liked how they looked even on the smaller single bike frame. I was glad I had a chance to play with some ‘throw-away’ decals as I’ll need to adjust the placement of the decals on the down tube to get that right look.  Interestingly enough, even though the new decals look larger in every dimension than the original Calfee branding, they are the same height; that was something of a surprise.

The Actual Installation

With the two sets of decals in hand on the 15th and a rainy day keeping me from riding on the following day, I spent the majority of my productive time on the 16th in the garage removing the old decals from our Calfee single bikes, prepping the frames and then applying the new decals.  I started a little after noon and finished up around 4:30pm.


While both bikes looked good, at least from normal viewing distances, I still wasn’t pleased with the placement of the down tube decals on Debbie’s bike; they were just too low. And, to be honest I screwed-up and made an assumption about a center line marking on the decals that was clearly wrong.  Instead of trusting my judgement, I wrongly assumed, “Oh, they put that mark between the two down tube decals to help with positioning the decals on the downtube.”  After realizing my error on Debbie’s bike, I corrected the placement on my Calfee and ordered some additional decals from Richard at Calfee so I could re-do Debbie’s down tube and also have a full set of decals in the event any of the three bikes ever has a decal that gets buggered-up and needs a replacement.

However, on my bike, the down tube also gave me some trouble as it has some complex curves and shapes associated with the bonded-on water bottle cage bosses and down tube shifter bosses / cable stops… something that was a carry-over from the CarbonFrames bikes to the very early Calfee’s.  If you look closely at Debbie’s Calfee Luna Pro which is a few years older, those shifter bosses are gone and, instead, non-adjustable cable cable stops are affixed to the head tube which was adopted for the entire Calfee line. Also, more traditional threaded inserts were used for water bottle cage attachment on the Luna, although the bonded-on water bottle bosses are still used on most of the other Calfee models today but with a smaller footprint that doesn’t seem to encroach on the new decal placement just looking at the Calfee customer bike galleries. The point being, these decals are not pliable and meant to go on straight tubes with a constant radius.  With my frame being relatively small at 54cm, the decals HAD to go on top of those complex contours and it was the bulges around the shifter bosses that created some very fine overlap lines in the decals and, to a lesser extent, at the water bottle boss.

Given these aren’t show bikes and I’m likely the only one who’ll ever notice these minor imperfections, I’m not sure I want to even bother messing with a re-do of those in the hope I’ll get a better result.  Instead, I think I’ll live with it “as is” and hold a set of replacement decals in reserve in case I ever decided to take a second shot at it.  All that said, overall… the bikes look great with the new decals!  Again, as we experienced with the tandem, it’s like getting new bikes without the expense!

Decal Application, Take Two

As mentioned, I ordered several extra decals from Calfee that arrived on 1 Sept.  On the following Sunday I replaced the CALFEE decals from Debbie’s Calfee Luna Pro that I placed a bit too low with the new ones. My placement was far-better this time.  I also went ahead and removed the small-size Calfee nautilus logo on the head tube (as that’s how it was originally finished) with the larger one used on most other Calfee’s and that looks better too.

And, me being me, I went ahead and decided to replace just one of the down tube CALFEE decals on my Tetra Pro in the hope that I’d get a better result on the “worst” of the two original decal applications.  While it wasn’t perfect, it was better and I think if I made one more attempt at it I now know enough about how these decals behave to conquer that shifter boss contour.  However, I’m going to hold off as it’s definitely “good enough” and can wait until such time as there’s a better reason to replace those decals.

So, here’s an updated “Family Portrait” of our Calfee collection:

About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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